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The Bible in Spain by George Borrow

Part 8 out of 12

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beautiful village on a rising ground, thickly planted with chestnut
trees. It is celebrated, at least in the Asturias, as being the
birth-place of Arguelles, the father of the Spanish constitution.

As we dismounted at the door of the posada, where we intended to
refresh ourselves, a person who was leaning out of an upper window
uttered an exclamation and disappeared. We were yet at the door,
when the same individual came running forth and cast himself on the
neck of Antonio. He was a good-looking young man, apparently about
five and twenty, genteelly dressed, with a Montero cap on his head.
Antonio looked at him for a moment, and then with a Ah, Monsieur,
est ce bien vous? shook him affectionately by the hand. The
stranger then motioned him to follow him, and they forthwith
proceeded to the room above.

Wondering what this could mean, I sat down to my morning repast.
Nearly an hour elapsed, and still Antonio did not make his
appearance; through the boards, however, which composed the ceiling
of the kitchen where I sat, I could hear the voices of himself and
his acquaintance, and thought that I could occasionally distinguish
the sound of broken sobs and groans; at last there was a long
pause. I became impatient, and was about to summon Antonio, when
he made his appearance, but unaccompanied by the stranger. "What,
in the name of all that is singular," I demanded, "have you been
about? Who is that man?" "Mon maitre," said Antonio, "c'est un
monsieur de ma connoissance. With your permission I will now take
a mouthful, and as we journey along I will tell you all that I know
of him."

"Monsieur," said Antonio, as we rode out of Colunga, "you are
anxious to know the history of the gentleman whom you saw embrace
me at the inn. Know, mon maitre, that these Carlist and Christino
wars have been the cause of much misery and misfortune in this
country, but a being so thoroughly unfortunate as that poor young
gentleman of the inn, I do not believe is to be found in Spain, and
his misfortunes proceed entirely from the spirit of party and
faction which for some time past has been so prevalent.

"Mon maitre, as I have often told you, I have lived in many houses
and served many masters, and it chanced that about ten years ago I
served the father of this gentleman, who was then a mere boy. It
was a very high family, for monsieur the father was a general in
the army, and a man of large possessions. The family consisted of
the general, his lady, and two sons; the youngest of whom is the
person you have just seen, the other was several years older.
Pardieu! I felt myself very comfortable in that house, and every
individual of the family had all kind of complaisance for me. It
is singular enough, that though I have been turned out of so many
families, I was never turned out of that; and though I left it
thrice, it was of my own free will. I became dissatisfied with the
other servants or with the dog or the cat. The last time I left
was on account of the quail which was hung out of the window of
madame, and which waked me in the morning with its call. Eh bien,
mon maitre, things went on in this way during the three years that
I continued in the family, out and in; at the end of which time it
was determined that the young gentleman should travel, and it was
proposed that I should attend him as valet; this I wished very much
to do. However, par malheur, I was at this time very much
dissatisfied with madame his mother about the quail, and I insisted
that before I accompanied him the bird should be slaughtered for
the kitchen. To this madame would by no means consent; and even
the young gentleman, who had always taken my part on other
occasions, said that I was unreasonable: so I left the house in a
huff, and never entered it again.

"Eh bien, mon maitre, the young gentleman went upon his travels,
and continued abroad several years; and from the time of his
departure until we met him at Colunga, I have not set eyes upon,
nor indeed heard of him. I have heard enough, however, of his
family; of monsieur the father, of madame, and of the brother, who
was an officer of cavalry. A short time before the troubles, I
mean before the death of Ferdinand, monsieur the father was
appointed captain-general of Coruna. Now monsieur, though a good
master, was rather a proud man, and fond of discipline and all that
kind of thing, and of obedience. He was, moreover, no friend to
the populace, to the canaille, and he had a particular aversion to
the nationals. So when Ferdinand died, it was whispered about at
Coruna, that the general was no liberal, and that he was a better
friend to Carlos than to Christina. Eh bien, it chanced that there
was a grand fete, or festival at Coruna, on the water; and the
nationals were there, and the soldiers. And I know not how it
befell, but there was an emeute, and the nationals laid hands on
monsieur the general, and tying a rope round his neck, flung him
overboard from the barge in which he was, and then dragged him
astern about the harbour until he was drowned. They then went to
his house and pillaged it, and so ill-treated madame, who at that
time happened to be enceinte, that in a few hours she expired.

"I tell you what, mon maitre, when I heard of the misfortune of
madame and the general, you would scarcely believe it, but I
actually shed tears, and was sorry that I had parted with them in
unkindness on account of that pernicious quail.

"Eh bien, mon maitre, nous poursuivrons notre histoire. The eldest
son, as I told you before, was a cavalry officer and a man of
resolution, and when he heard of the death of his father and
mother, he vowed revenge. Poor fellow! but what does he do but
desert, with two or three discontented spirits of his troop, and
going to the frontier of Galicia, he raised a small faction, and
proclaimed Don Carlos. For some little time he did considerable
damage to the liberals, burning and destroying their possessions,
and putting to death several nationals that fell into his hands.
However, this did not last long, his faction was soon dispersed,
and he himself taken and hanged, and his head stuck on a pole.

"Nous sommes deja presque au bout. When we arrived at the inn, the
young man took me above, as you saw, and there for some time he
could do nothing but weep and sob. His story is soon told:- he
returned from his travels, and the first intelligence which awaited
him on his arrival in Spain was, that his father was drowned, his
mother dead, and his brother hanged, and, moreover, all the
possessions of his family confiscated. This was not all: wherever
he went, he found himself considered in the light of a factious and
discontented person, and was frequently assailed by the nationals
with blows of sabres and cudgels. He applied to his relations, and
some of these, who were of the Carlist persuasion, advised him to
betake himself to the army of Don Carlos, and the Pretender
himself, who was a friend of his father, and remembered the
services of his brother, offered to give him a command in his army.
But, mon maitre, as I told you before, he was a pacific young
gentleman, and as mild as a lamb, and hated the idea of shedding
blood. He was, moreover, not of the Carlist opinion, for during
his studies he had read books written a long time ago by countrymen
of mine, all about republics and liberties, and the rights of man,
so that he was much more inclined to the liberal than the Carlist
system; he therefore declined the offer of Don Carlos, whereupon
all his relations deserted him, whilst the liberals hunted him from
one place to another like a wild beast. At last, he sold some
little property which still remained to him, and with the proceeds
he came to this remote place of Colunga, where no one knew him, and
where he has been residing for several months, in a most melancholy
manner, with no other amusement than that which he derives from a
book or two, or occasionally hunting a leveret with his spaniel.

"He asked me for counsel, but I had none to give him, and could
only weep with him. At last he said, 'Dear Antonio, I see there is
no remedy. You say your master is below, beg him, I pray, to stay
till to-morrow, and we will send for the maidens of the
neighbourhood, and for a violin and a bagpipe, and we will dance
and cast away care for a moment.' And then he said something in
old Greek, which I scarcely understood, but which I think was
equivalent to, 'Let us eat, drink, and be merry, for to-morrow we

"Eh bien, mon maitre, I told him that you were a serious gentleman
who never took any amusement, and that you were in a hurry.
Whereupon he wept again, and embraced me and bade me farewell. And
now, mon maitre, I have told you the history of the young man of
the inn."

We slept at Ribida de Sela, and the next day, at noon, arrived at
Llanes. Our route lay between the coast and an immense range of
mountains, which rose up like huge ramparts at about a league's
distance from the sea. The ground over which we passed was
tolerably level, and seemingly well cultivated. There was no lack
of vines and trees, whilst at short intervals rose the cortijos of
the proprietors,--square stone buildings surrounded with an outer
wall. Llanes is an old town, formerly of considerable strength.
In its neighbourhood is the convent of San Cilorio, one of the
largest monastic edifices in all Spain. It is now deserted, and
stands lone and desolate upon one of the peninsulas of the
Cantabrian shore. Leaving Llanes, we soon entered one of the most
dreary and barren regions imaginable, a region of rock and stone,
where neither grass nor trees were to be seen. Night overtook us
in these places. We wandered on, however, until we reached a small
village, termed Santo Colombo. Here we passed the night, in the
house of a carabineer of the revenue, a tall athletic figure who
met us at the gate armed with a gun. He was a Castilian, and with
all that ceremonious formality and grave politeness for which his
countrymen were at one time so celebrated. He chid his wife for
conversing with her handmaid about the concerns of the house before
us. "Barbara," said he, "this is not conversation calculated to
interest the strange cavaliers; hold your peace, or go aside with
the muchacha." In the morning he refused any remuneration for his
hospitality. "I am a caballero," said he, "even as yourselves. It
is not my custom to admit people into my house for the sake of
lucre. I received you because you were benighted and the posada

Rising early in the morning, we pursued our way through a country
equally stony and dreary as that which we had entered upon the
preceding day. In about four hours we reached San Vincente, a
large dilapidated town, chiefly inhabited by miserable fishermen.
It retains, however, many remarkable relics of former magnificence:
the bridge, which bestrides the broad and deep firth, on which
stands the town, has no less than thirty-two arches, and is built
of grey granite. It is very ancient, and in some part in so
ruinous a condition as to be dangerous.

Leaving San Vincente behind us, we travelled for some leagues on
the sea-shore, crossing occasionally a narrow inlet or firth. The
country at last began to improve, and in the neighbourhood of
Santillana was both beautiful and fertile. About a league before
we reached the country of Gil Blas, we passed through an extensive
wood, in which were rocks and precipices; it was exactly such a
place as that in which the cave of Rolando was situated, as
described in the novel. This wood has an evil name, and our guide
informed us that robberies were occasionally committed in it. No
adventure, however, befell us, and we reached Santillana at about
six in the evening.

We did not enter the town, but halted at a large venta or posada at
the entrance, before which stood an immense ash tree. We had
scarcely housed ourselves when a tremendous storm of rain and wind
commenced, accompanied with thunder and lightning, which continued
without much interruption for several hours, and the effects of
which were visible in our journey of the following day, the streams
over which we passed being much swollen, and several trees lying
uptorn by the wayside. Santillana contains four thousand
inhabitants, and is six short leagues' distance from Santander,
where we arrived early the next day.

Nothing could exhibit a stronger contrast to the desolate tracts
and the half ruined towns through which we had lately passed, than
the bustle and activity of Santander, which, though it stands on
the confines of the Basque provinces, the stronghold of the
Pretender, is almost the only city in Spain which has not suffered
by the Carlist wars. Till the close of the last century it was
little better than an obscure fishing town, but it has of late
years almost entirely engrossed the commerce of the Spanish
transatlantic possessions, especially of the Havannah. The
consequence of which has been, that whilst Santander has rapidly
increased in wealth and magnificence, both Coruna and Cadiz have
been as rapidly hastening to decay. At present it possesses a
noble quay, on which stands a line of stately edifices, far
exceeding in splendour the palaces of the aristocracy at Madrid.
These are built in the French style, and are chiefly occupied by
the merchants. The population of Santander is estimated at sixty
thousand souls.

On the day of my arrival I dined at the table d'hote of the
principal inn, kept by a Genoese. The company was very
miscellaneous, French, Germans, and Spaniards, all speaking in
their respective languages, whilst at the ends of the table,
confronting each other, sat two Catalan merchants, one of whom
weighed nearly twenty stone, grunting across the board in their
harsh dialect. Long, however, before dinner was concluded, the
conversation was entirely engrossed and the attention of all
present directed to an individual who sat on one side of the bulky
Catalan. He was a thin man of about the middle height, with a
remarkably red face, and something in his eyes which, if not a
squint, bore a striking resemblance to it. He was dressed in a
blue military frock, and seemed to take much more pleasure in
haranguing than in the fare which was set before him. He spoke
perfectly good Spanish, yet his voice betrayed something of a
foreign accent. For a long time he descanted with immense
volubility on war and all its circumstances, freely criticising the
conduct of the generals, both Carlists and Christinos, in the
present struggle, till at last he exclaimed, "Had I but twenty
thousand men allowed me by the government, I would bring the war to
a conclusion in six months."

"Pardon me, Sir," said a Spaniard who sat at the table, "the
curiosity which induces me to request the favour of your
distinguished name."

"I am Flinter," replied the individual in the military frock, "a
name which is in the mouth of every man, woman, and child in Spain.
I am Flinter the Irishman, just escaped from the Basque provinces
and the claws of Don Carlos. On the decease of Ferdinand I
declared for Isabella, esteeming it the duty of every good cavalier
and Irishman in the Spanish service to do so. You have all heard
of my exploits, and permit me to tell you they would have been yet
more glorious had not jealousy been at work and cramped my means.
Two years ago I was despatched to Estremadura, to organize the
militias. The bands of Gomez and Cabrera entered the province and
spread devastation around. They found me, however, at my post; and
had I been properly seconded by those under my command, the two
rebels would never have returned to their master to boast of their
success. I stood behind my intrenchments. A man advanced and
summoned us to surrender. 'Who are you?' I demanded. 'I am
Cabrera,' he replied; 'and I am Flinter,' I retorted, flourishing
my sabre; 'retire to your battalions or you will forthwith die the
death.' He was awed and did as I commanded. In an hour we
surrendered. I was led a prisoner to the Basque provinces; and the
Carlists rejoiced in the capture they had made, for the name of
Flinter had long sounded amongst the Carlist ranks. I was flung
into a loathsome dungeon, where I remained twenty months. I was
cold; I was naked; but I did not on that account despond, my spirit
was too indomitable for such weakness. My keeper at last pitied my
misfortunes. He said that 'it grieved him to see so valiant a man
perish in inglorious confinement.' We laid a plan to escape
together; disguises were provided, and we made the attempt. We
passed unobserved till we arrived at the Carlist lines above
Bilbao; there we were stopped. My presence of mind, however, did
not desert me. I was disguised as a carman, as a Catalan, and the
coolness of my answers deceived my interrogators. We were
permitted to pass, and soon were safe within the walls of Bilbao.
There was an illumination that night in the town, for the lion had
burst his toils, Flinter had escaped, and was once more returned to
re-animate a drooping cause. I have just arrived at Santander on
my way to Madrid, where I intend to ask of the government a
command, with twenty thousand men."

Poor Flinter! a braver heart and a move gasconading mouth were
surely never united in the same body. He proceeded to Madrid, and
through the influence of the British ambassador, who was his
friend, he obtained the command of a small division, with which he
contrived to surprise and defeat, in the neighbourhood of Toledo, a
body of the Carlists, commanded by Orejita, whose numbers more than
trebled his own. In reward for this exploit he was persecuted by
the government, which, at that time, was the moderado or juste
milieu, with the most relentless animosity; the prime minister,
Ofalia, supporting with all his influence numerous and ridiculous
accusations of plunder and robbery brought against the too-
successful general by the Carlist canons of Toledo. He was
likewise charged with a dereliction of duty, in having permitted,
after the battle of Valdepenas, which he likewise won in the most
gallant manner, the Carlist force to take possession of the mines
of Almaden, although the government, who were bent on his ruin, had
done all in their power to prevent him from following up his
successes by denying him the slightest supplies and reinforcements.
The fruits of victory thus wrested from him, his hopes blighted, a
morbid melancholy seized upon the Irishman; he resigned his
command, and in less than ten months from the period when I saw him
at Santander, afforded his dastardly and malignant enemies a
triumph which satisfied even them, by cutting his own throat with a

Ardent spirits of foreign climes, who hope to distinguish
yourselves in the service of Spain, and to earn honours and
rewards, remember the fate of Columbus, and of another as brave and
as ardent--Flinter!


Departure from Santander--The Night Alarm--The Black Pass.

I had ordered two hundred Testaments to be sent to Santander from
Madrid: I found, however, to my great sorrow, that they had not
arrived, and I supposed that they had either been seized on the way
by the Carlists, or that my letter had miscarried. I then thought
of applying to England for a supply, but I abandoned the idea for
two reasons. In the first place, I should have to remain idly
loitering, at least a month, before I could receive them, at a
place where every article was excessively dear; and, secondly, I
was very unwell, and unable to procure medical advice at Santander.
Ever since I left Coruna, I had been afflicted with a terrible
dysentery, and latterly with an ophthalmia, the result of the other
malady. I therefore determined on returning to Madrid. To effect
this, however, seemed no very easy task. Parties of the army of
Don Carlos, which, in a partial degree, had been routed in Castile,
were hovering about the country through which I should have to
pass, more especially in that part called "The Mountains," so that
all communication had ceased between Santander and the southern
districts. Nevertheless, I determined to trust as usual in the
Almighty and to risk the danger. I purchased, therefore, a small
horse, and sallied forth with Antonio.

Before departing, however, I entered into conference with the
booksellers as to what they should do in the event of my finding an
opportunity of sending them a stock of Testaments from Madrid; and,
having arranged matters to my satisfaction, I committed myself to
Providence. I will not dwell long on this journey of three hundred
miles. We were in the midst of the fire, yet, strange to say,
escaped without a hair of our heads being singed. Robberies,
murders, and all kinds of atrocities were perpetrated before,
behind, and on both sides of us, but not so much as a dog barked at
us, though in one instance a plan had been laid to intercept us.
About four leagues from Santander, whilst we were baiting our
horses at a village hostelry, I saw a fellow run off after having
held a whispering conversation with a boy who was dealing out
barley to us. I instantly inquired of the latter what the man had
said to him, but only obtained an evasive answer. It appeared
afterwards that the conversation was about ourselves. Two or three
leagues farther there was an inn and village where we had proposed
staying, and indeed had expressed our intention of doing so; but on
arriving there, finding that the sun was still far from its bourne,
I determined to proceed farther, expecting to meet with a resting-
place at the distance of a league; though I was mistaken, as we
found none until we reached Montaneda, nine leagues and a half from
Santander, where was stationed a small detachment of soldiers. At
the dead of night we were aroused from our sleep by a cry that the
factious were not far off. A messenger had arrived from the
alcalde of the village where we had previously intended staying,
who stated that a party of Carlists had just surprised that place,
and were searching for an English spy, whom they supposed to be at
the inn. The officer commanding the soldiers upon hearing this,
not deeming his own situation a safe one, instantly drew off his
men, falling back on a stronger party stationed in a fortified
village near at hand. As for ourselves, we saddled our horses and
continued our way in the dark. Had the Carlists succeeded in
apprehending me, I should instantly have been shot, and my body
cast on the rocks to feed the vultures and wolves. But "it was not
so written," said Antonio, who, like many of his countrymen, was a
fatalist. The next night we had another singular escape: we had
arrived near the entrance of a horrible pass called "El puerto de
la puente de las tablas," or the pass of the bridge of planks,
which wound through a black and frightful mountain, on the farther
side of which was the town of Onas, where we meant to tarry for the
night. The sun had set about a quarter of an hour. Suddenly a
man, with his face covered with blood, rushed out of the pass.
"Turn back, sir," he said, "in the name of God; there are murderers
in that pass; they have just robbed me of my mule and all I
possess, and I have hardly escaped with life from their hands." I
scarcely know why, but I made him no answer and proceeded; indeed I
was so weary and unwell that I cared not what became of me. We
entered; the rocks rose perpendicularly, right and left, entirely
intercepting the scanty twilight, so that the darkness of the
grave, or rather the blackness of the valley of the shadow of death
reigned around us, and we knew not where we went, but trusted to
the instinct of the horses, who moved on with their heads close to
the ground. The only sound which we heard was the plash of a
stream, which tumbled down the pass. I expected every moment to
feel a knife at my throat, but "IT WAS NOT SO WRITTEN." We
threaded the pass without meeting a human being, and within three
quarters of an hour after the time we entered it, we found
ourselves within the posada of the town of Onas, which was filled
with troops and armed peasants expecting an attack from the grand
Carlist army, which was near at hand.

Well, we reached Burgos in safety; we reached Valladolid in safety;
we passed the Guadarama in safety; and were at length safely housed
in Madrid. People said we had been very lucky; Antonio said, "It
was so written"; but I say, Glory be to the Lord for his mercies
vouchsafed to us.


State of Affairs at Madrid--The New Ministry--Pope of Rome--The
Bookseller of Toledo--Sword Blades--Houses of Toledo--The Forlorn
Gypsy--Proceedings at Madrid--Another Servant.

During my journey in the northern provinces of Spain, which
occupied a considerable portion of the year 1837, I had
accomplished but a slight portion of what I proposed to myself to
effect in the outset. Insignificant are the results of man's
labours compared with the swelling ideas of his presumption;
something, however, had been effected by the journey, which I had
just concluded. The New Testament of Christ was now enjoying a
quiet sale in the principal towns of the north, and I had secured
the friendly interest and co-operation of the booksellers of those
parts, particularly of him the most considerable of them all, old
Rey of Compostella. I had, moreover, disposed of a considerable
number of Testaments with my own hands, to private individuals,
entirely of the lower class, namely, muleteers, carmen,
contrabandistas, etc., so that upon the whole I had abundant cause
for gratitude and thanksgiving.

I did not find our affairs in a very prosperous state at Madrid,
few copies having been sold in the booksellers' shops, yet what
could be rationally expected during these latter times? Don
Carlos, with a large army, had been at the gates; plunder and
massacre had been expected; so that people were too much occupied
in forming plans to secure their lives and property, to give much
attention to reading of any description.

The enemy, however, had now retired to his strongholds in Alava and
Guipuscoa. I hoped that brighter days were dawning, and that the
work, under my own superintendence, would, with God's blessing,
prosper in the capital of Spain. How far the result corresponded
with my expectations will be seen in the sequel. During my absence
in the north, a total change of ministers had occurred. The
liberal party had been ousted from the cabinet, and in their place
had entered individuals attached to the moderado or court party:
unfortunately, however, for my prospects, they consisted of persons
with whom I had no acquaintance whatever, and with whom my former
friends, Galiano and Isturitz, had little or no influence. These
gentlemen were now regularly laid on the shelf, and their political
career appeared to be terminated for ever.

From the present ministry I could expect but little; they consisted
of men, the greater part of whom had been either courtiers or
employes of the deceased King Ferdinand, who were friends to
absolutism, and by no means inclined to do or to favour anything
calculated to give offence to the court of Rome, which they were
anxious to conciliate, hoping that eventually it might be induced
to recognize the young queen, not as the constitutional but as the
absolute Queen Isabella the Second.

Such was the party which continued in power throughout the
remainder of my sojourn in Spain, and which persecuted me less from
rancour and malice than from policy. It was not until the
conclusion of the war of the succession that it lost the
ascendancy, when it sank to the ground with its patroness the
queen-mother, before the dictatorship of Espartero.

The first step which I took after my return to Madrid, towards
circulating the Scriptures, was a very bold one. It was neither
more nor less than the establishment of a shop for the sale of
Testaments. This shop was situated in the Calle del Principe, a
respectable and well-frequented street in the neighbourhood of the
Square of Cervantes. I furnished it handsomely with glass cases
and chandeliers, and procured an acute Gallegan of the name of Pepe
Calzado, to superintend the business, who gave me weekly a faithful
account of the copies sold.

"How strangely times alter," said I, the second day subsequent to
the opening of my establishment, as I stood on the opposite side of
the street, leaning against the wall with folded arms, surveying my
shop, on the windows of which were painted in large yellow
characters, Despacho de la Sociedad Biblica y Estrangera; "how
strangely times alter; here have I been during the last eight
months running about old Popish Spain, distributing Testaments, as
agent of what the Papists call an heretical society, and have
neither been stoned nor burnt; and here am I now in the capital,
doing that which one would think were enough to cause all the dead
inquisitors and officials buried within the circuit of the walls to
rise from their graves and cry abomination; and yet no one
interferes with me. Pope of Rome! Pope of Rome! look to thyself.
That shop may be closed; but oh! what a sign of the times, that it
has been permitted to exist for one day. It appears to me, my
Father, that the days of your sway are numbered in Spain; that you
will not be permitted much longer to plunder her, to scoff at her,
and to scourge her with scorpions, as in bygone periods. See I not
the hand on the wall? See I not in yonder letters a 'Mene, mene,
Tekel, Upharsin'? Look to thyself, Batuschca."

And I remained for two hours, leaning against the wall, staring at
the shop.

A short time after the establishment of the despacho at Madrid, I
once more mounted the saddle, and, attended by Antonio, rode over
to Toledo, for the purpose of circulating the Scriptures, sending
beforehand by a muleteer a cargo of one hundred Testaments. I
instantly addressed myself to the principal bookseller of the
place, whom from the circumstance of his living in a town so
abounding with canons, priests, and ex-friars as Toledo, I expected
to find a Carlist, or a servile at least. I was never more
mistaken in my life; on entering the shop, which was very large and
commodious, I beheld a stout athletic man, dressed in a kind of
cavalry uniform, with a helmet on his head, and an immense sabre in
his hand: this was the bookseller himself, who I soon found was an
officer in the national cavalry. Upon learning who I was, he shook
me heartily by the hand, and said that nothing would give him
greater pleasure than taking charge of the books, which he would
endeavour to circulate to the utmost of his ability.

"Will not your doing so bring you into odium with the clergy?"

"Ca!" said he; "who cares? I am rich, and so was my father before
me. I do not depend on them, they cannot hate me more than they do
already, for I make no secret of my opinions. I have just returned
from an expedition," said he; "my brother nationals and myself
have, for the last three days, been occupied in hunting down the
factious and thieves of the neighbourhood; we have killed three and
brought in several prisoners. Who cares for the cowardly priests?
I am a liberal, Don Jorge, and a friend of your countryman,
Flinter. Many is the Carlist guerilla-curate and robber-friar whom
I have assisted him to catch. I am rejoiced to hear that he has
just been appointed captain-general of Toledo; there will be fine
doings here when he arrives, Don Jorge. We will make the clergy
shake between us, I assure you."

Toledo was formerly the capital of Spain. Its population at
present is barely fifteen thousand souls, though, in the time of
the Romans, and also during the Middle Ages, it is said to have
amounted to between two and three hundred thousand. It is situated
about twelve leagues (forty miles) westward of Madrid, and is built
upon a steep rocky hill, round which flows the Tagus, on all sides
but the north. It still possesses a great many remarkable
edifices, notwithstanding that it has long since fallen into decay.
Its cathedral is the most magnificent of Spain, and is the see of
the primate. In the tower of this cathedral is the famous bell of
Toledo, the largest in the world with the exception of the monster
bell of Moscow, which I have also seen. It weighs 1,543 arrobes,
or 37,032 pounds. It has, however, a disagreeable sound, owing to
a cleft in its side. Toledo could once boast the finest pictures
in Spain, but many were stolen or destroyed by the French during
the Peninsular war, and still more have lately been removed by
order of the government. Perhaps the most remarkable one still
remains; I allude to that which represents the burial of the Count
of Orgaz, the masterpiece of Domenico, the Greek, a most
extraordinary genius, some of whose productions possess merit of a
very high order. The picture in question is in the little parish
church of San Tome, at the bottom of the aisle, on the left side of
the altar. Could it be purchased, I should say it would be cheap
at five thousand pounds.

Amongst the many remarkable things which meet the eye of the
curious observer at Toledo, is the manufactory of arms, where are
wrought the swords, spears, and other weapons intended for the
army, with the exception of fire-arms, which mostly come from

In old times, as is well known, the sword-blades of Toledo were
held in great estimation, and were transmitted as merchandise
throughout Christendom. The present manufactory, or fabrica, as it
is called, is a handsome modern edifice, situated without the wall
of the city, on a plain contiguous to the river, with which it
communicates by a small canal. It is said that the water and the
sand of the Tagus are essential for the proper tempering of the
swords. I asked some of the principal workmen whether, at the
present day, they could manufacture weapons of equal value to those
of former days, and whether the secret had been lost.

"Ca!" said they, "the swords of Toledo were never so good as those
which we are daily making. It is ridiculous enough to see
strangers coming here to purchase old swords, the greater part of
which are mere rubbish, and never made at Toledo, yet for such they
will give a large price, whilst they would grudge two dollars for
this jewel, which was made but yesterday"; thereupon putting into
my hand a middle-sized rapier. "Your worship," said they, "seems
to have a strong arm, prove its temper against the stone wall;--
thrust boldly and fear not."

I HAVE a strong arm and dashed the point with my utmost force
against the solid granite: my arm was numbed to the shoulder from
the violence of the concussion, and continued so for nearly a week,
but the sword appeared not to be at all blunted, or to have
suffered in any respect.

"A better sword than that," said an ancient workman, a native of
Old Castile, "never transfixed Moor out yonder on the sagra."

During my stay at Toledo, I lodged at the Posada de los Caballeros,
which signifies the inn of the gentlemen, which name, in some
respects, is certainly well deserved, for there are many palaces
far less magnificent than this inn of Toledo. By magnificence it
must not be supposed, however, that I allude to costliness of
furniture, or any kind of luxury which pervaded the culinary
department. The rooms were as empty as those of Spanish inns
generally are, and the fare, though good in its kind, was plain and
homely; but I have seldom seen a more imposing edifice. It was of
immense size, consisting of several stories, and was built
something in the Moorish taste, with a quadrangular court in the
centre, beneath which was an immense algibe or tank, serving as a
reservoir for rain-water. All the houses in Toledo are supplied
with tanks of this description, into which the waters in the rainy
season flow from the roofs through pipes. No other water is used
for drinking; that of the Tagus, not being considered salubrious,
is only used for purposes of cleanliness, being conveyed up the
steep narrow streets on donkeys in large stone jars. The city,
standing on a rocky mountain, has no wells. As for the rain-water,
it deposits a sediment in the tank, and becomes very sweet and
potable: these tanks are cleaned out: twice every year. During
the summer, at which time the heat in this part of Spain is
intense, the families spend the greater part of the day in the
courts, which are overhung with a linen awning, the heat of the
atmosphere being tempered by the coolness arising from the tank
below, which answers the same purpose as the fountain in the
southern provinces of Spain.

I spent about a week at Toledo, during which time several copies of
the Testament were disposed of in the shop of my friend the
bookseller. Several priests took it up from the mostrador on which
it lay, examined it, but made no remarks; none of them purchased
it. My friend showed me through his house, almost every apartment
of which was lined from roof to floor with books, many of which
were highly valuable. He told me that he possessed the best
collection in Spain of the ancient literature of the country. He
was, however, less proud of his library than his stud; finding that
I had some acquaintance with horses, his liking for me and also his
respect considerably increased. "All I have," said he, "is at your
service; I see you are a man after my own heart. When you are
disposed to ride out upon the sagra, you have only to apply to my
groom, who will forthwith saddle you my famed Cordovese entero; I
purchased him from the stables at Aranjuez, when the royal stud was
broken up. There is but one other man to whom I would lend him,
and that man is Flinter."

At Toledo I met with a forlorn Gypsy woman and her son, a lad of
about fourteen years of age; she was not a native of the place, but
had come from La Mancha, her husband having been cast into the
prison of Toledo on a charge of mule-stealing: the crime had been
proved against him, and in a few days he was to depart for Malaga,
with the chain of galley slaves. He was quite destitute of money,
and his wife was now in Toledo, earning a few cuartos by telling
fortunes about the streets, to support him in prison. She told me
that it was her intention to follow him to Malaga, where she hoped
to be able to effect his escape. What an instance of conjugal
affection; and yet the affection here was all on one side, as is
too frequently the case. Her husband was a worthless scoundrel,
who had previously abandoned her and betaken himself to Madrid,
where he had long lived in concubinage with the notorious she-thug
Aurora, at whose instigation he had committed the robbery for which
he was now held in durance. "Should your husband escape from
Malaga, in what direction will he fly?" I demanded.

"To the chim of the Corahai, my son; to the land of the Moors, to
be a soldier of the Moorish king."

"And what will become of yourself?" I inquired; "think you that he
will take you with him?"

"He will leave me on the shore, my son, and as soon as he has
crossed the black pawnee, he will forget me and never think of me

"And knowing his ingratitude, why should you give yourself so much
trouble about him?"

"Am I not his romi, my son, and am I not bound by the law of the
Cales to assist him to the last? Should he return from the land of
the Corahai at the end of a hundred years, and should find me
alive, and should say, I am hungry, little wife, go forth and steal
or tell bahi, I must do it, for he is the rom and I the romi."

On my return to Madrid, I found the despacho still open: various
Testaments had been sold, though the number was by no means
considerable: the work had to labour under great disadvantage,
from the ignorance of the people at large with respect to its tenor
and contents. It was no wonder, then, that little interest was
felt respecting it. To call, however, public attention to the
despacho, I printed three thousand advertisements on paper, yellow,
blue, and crimson, with which I almost covered the sides of the
streets, and besides this, inserted an account of it in all the
journals and periodicals; the consequence was, that in a short time
almost every person in Madrid was aware of its existence. Such
exertions in London or Paris would probably have ensured the sale
of the entire edition of the New Testament within a few days. In
Madrid, however, the result was not quite so flattering; for after
the establishment had been open an entire month, the copies
disposed of barely amounted to one hundred.

These proceedings of mine did not fail to cause a great sensation:
the priests and their partisans were teeming with malice and fury,
which, for some time, however, they thought proper to exhibit only
in words; it being their opinion that I was favoured by the
ambassador and by the British government; but there was no attempt,
however atrocious, that might not be expected from their malignity;
and were it right and seemly for me, the most insignificant of
worms, to make such a comparison, I might say, like Paul at
Ephesus, I was fighting with wild beasts.

On the last day of the year 1837, my servant Antonio thus addressed
me: "Mon maitre, it is necessary that I leave you for a time.
Ever since we have returned from our journeys, I have become
unsettled and dissatisfied with the house, the furniture, and with
Donna Marequita. I have therefore engaged myself as cook in the
house of the Count of -, where I am to receive four dollars per
month less than what your worship gives me. I am fond of change,
though it be for the worse. Adieu, mon maitre, may you be as well
served as you deserve; should you chance, however, to have any
pressing need de mes soins, send for me without hesitation, and I
will at once give my new master warning, if I am still with him,
and come to you."

Thus was I deprived for a time of the services of Antonio. I
continued for a few days without a domestic, at the end of which
time I hired a certain Cantabrian or Basque, a native of the
village of Hernani, in Guipuscoa, who was strongly recommended to


Euscarra--Basque not Irish--Sanskrit and Tartar Dialects--A Vowel
Language--Popular Poetry--The Basques--Their Persons--Basque Women.

I now entered upon the year 1838, perhaps the most eventful of all
those which I passed in Spain. The despacho still continued open,
with a somewhat increasing sale. Having at this time little of
particular moment with which to occupy myself, I committed to the
press two works, which for some time past had been in the course of
preparation. These were the Gospel of St. Luke in the Spanish
Gypsy and the Euscarra languages.

With respect to the Gypsy Gospel I have little to say, having
already spoken of it in a former work (The Zincali): it was
translated by myself, together with the greater part of the New
Testament, during my long intercourse with the Spanish Gypsies.
Concerning the Luke in Euscarra, however, it will be as well to be
more particular, and to avail myself of the present opportunity to
say a few words concerning the language in which it was written,
and the people for whom it was intended.

The Euscarra, then, is the proper term for a certain speech or
language, supposed to have been at one time prevalent throughout
Spain, but which is at present confined to certain districts, both
on the French and Spanish side of the Pyrenees, which are laved by
the waters of the Cantabrian Gulf or Bay of Biscay. This language
is commonly known as the Basque or Biscayan, which words are mere
modifications of the word Euscarra, the consonant B having been
prefixed for the sake of euphony. Much that is vague, erroneous,
and hypothetical, has been said and written concerning this tongue.
The Basques assert that it was not only the original language of
Spain, but also of the world, and that from it all other languages
are derived; but the Basques are a very ignorant people, and know
nothing of the philosophy of language. Very little importance,
therefore, need be attached to any opinion of theirs on such a
subject. A few amongst them, however, who affect some degree of
learning, contend, that it is neither more nor less than a dialect
of the Phoenician, and, that the Basques are the descendants of a
Phoenician colony, established at the foot of the Pyrenees at a
very remote period. Of this theory, or rather conjecture, as it is
unsubstantiated by the slightest proof, it is needless to take
further notice than to observe that, provided the Phoenician
language, as many of the TRULY LEARNED have supposed and almost
proved, was a dialect of the Hebrew, or closely allied to it, it
were as unreasonable to suppose that the Basque is derived from it,
as that the Kamschatdale and Cherokee are dialects of the Greek or

There is, however, another opinion with respect to the Basque which
deserves more especial notice, from the circumstance of its being
extensively entertained amongst the literati of various countries
of Europe, more especially England. I allude to the Celtic origin
of this tongue, and its close connexion with the most cultivated of
all the Celtic dialects, the Irish. People who pretend to be well
conversant with the subject, have even gone so far as to assert,
that so little difference exists between the Basque and Irish
tongues, that individuals of the two nations, when they meet
together, find no difficulty in understanding each other, with no
other means of communication than their respective languages; in a
word, that there is scarcely a greater difference between the two
than between the French and the Spanish Basque. Such similarity,
however, though so strongly insisted upon, by no means exists in
fact, and perhaps in the whole of Europe it would be difficult to
discover two languages which exhibit fewer points of mutual
resemblance than the Basque and Irish.

The Irish, like most other European languages, is a dialect of the
Sanskrit, a REMOTE one, as may well be supposed. The corner of the
western world in which it is still preserved being, of all
countries in Europe, the most distant from the proper home of the
parent tongue. It is still, however, a dialect of that venerable
and most original speech, not so closely resembling it, it is true,
as the English, Danish, and those which belong to what is called
the Gothic family, and far less than those of the Sclavonian; for,
the nearer we approach to the East, in equal degree the
assimilation of languages to this parent stock becomes more clear
and distinct; but still a dialect, agreeing with the Sanskrit in
structure, in the arrangement of words, and in many instances in
the words themselves, which, however modified, may still be
recognized as Sanskrit. But what is the Basque, and to what family
does it properly pertain?

To two great Asiatic languages, all the dialects spoken at present
in Europe may be traced. These two, if not now spoken, still exist
in books, and are, moreover, the languages of two of the principal
religions of the East. I allude to the Tibetian and Sanskrit--the
sacred languages of the followers of Buddh and Bramah. These
tongues, though they possess many words in common, which is easily
to be accounted for by their close proximity, are properly
distinct, being widely different in structure. In what this
difference consists, I have neither time nor inclination to state;
suffice it to say that the Celtic, Gothic, and Sclavonian dialects
in Europe belong to the Sanskrit family, even as in the East the
Persian, and to a less degree the Arabic, Hebrew, etc.; whilst to
the Tibetian or Tartar family in Asia pertain the Mandchou and
Mongolian, the Calmuc and the Turkish of the Caspian Sea; and in
Europe, the Hungarian and the Basque PARTIALLY.

Indeed this latter language is a strange anomaly, so that upon the
whole it is less difficult to say what it is not, than what it is.
It abounds with Sanskrit words to such a degree that its surface
seems strewn with them. Yet would it be wrong to term it a
Sanskrit dialect, for in the collocation of these words the Tartar
form is most decidedly observable. A considerable proportion of
Tartar words is likewise to be found in this language, though
perhaps not in equal number to the terms derived from the Sanskrit.
Of these Tartar etymons I shall at present content myself with
citing one, though, if necessary, it were easy to adduce hundreds.
This word is Jauna, or as it is pronounced, Khauna, a word in
constant use amongst the Basques, and which is the Khan of the
Mongols and Mandchous, and of the same signification--Lord.

Having closely examined the subject in all its various bearings,
and having weighed what is to be said on one side against what is
to be advanced on the other, I am inclined to rank the Basque
rather amongst the Tartar than the Sanskrit dialects. Whoever
should have an opportunity of comparing the enunciation of the
Basques and Tartars would, from that alone, even if he understood
them not, come to the conclusion that their respective languages
were formed on the same principles. In both occur periods
seemingly interminable, during which the voice gradually ascends to
a climax, and then gradually sinks down.

I have spoken of the surprising number of Sanskrit words contained
in the Basque language, specimens of some of which will be found
below. It is remarkable enough, that in the greater part of the
derivatives from the Sanskrit the Basque has dropped the initial
consonant, so that the word commences with a vowel. The Basque,
indeed, may be said to be almost a vowel language; the number of
consonants employed being comparatively few: perhaps eight words
out of ten commence and terminate with a vowel, owing to which it
is a language to the highest degree soft and melodious, far
excelling in this respect any other language in Europe, not even
excepting the Italian.

Here follow a few specimens of Basque words with the Sanskrit roots
in juxtaposition:-

Ardoa Sandhana Wine.
Arratsa Ratri Night.
Beguia Akshi Eye.
Choria Chiria Bird.
Chacurra Cucura Dog.
Erreguina Rani Queen.
Icusi Iksha To see.
Iru Treya Three.
Jan (Khan) Khana To eat.
Uria Puri City.
Urruti Dura Far.

Such is the tongue in which I brought out Saint Luke's Gospel at
Madrid. The translation I procured originally from a Basque
physician of the name of Oteiza. Previous to being sent to the
press, the version had lain nearly two years in my possession,
during which time, and particularly during my travels, I lost no
opportunity of submitting it to the inspection of those who were
considered competent scholars in the Euscarra. It did not entirely
please me; but it was in vain to seek for a better translation.

In my early youth I had obtained a slight acquaintance with the
Euscarra, as it exists in books. This acquaintance I considerably
increased during my stay in Spain; and by occasionally mingling
with Basques, was enabled to understand the spoken language to a
certain extent, and even to speak it, but always with considerable
hesitation; for to speak Basque, even tolerably, it is necessary to
have lived in the country from a very early period. So great are
the difficulties attending it, and so strange are its
peculiarities, that it is very rare to find a foreigner possessed
of any considerable skill in the oral language, and the Spaniards
consider the obstacles so formidable that they have a proverb to
the effect that Satan once lived seven years in Biscay, and then
departed, finding himself unable either to understand or to make
himself understood.

There are few inducements to the study of this language. In the
first place, the acquisition of it is by no means necessary even to
those who reside in the countries where it is spoken; the Spanish
being generally understood throughout the Basque provinces
pertaining to Spain, and the French in those pertaining to France.

In the second place, neither dialect is in possession of any
peculiar literature capable of repaying the toil of the student.
There are various books extant both in French and Spanish Basque,
but these consist entirely of Popish devotion, and are for the most
part translations.

It will, perhaps, here be asked whether the Basques do not possess
popular poetry, like most other nations, however small and
inconsiderable. They have certainly no lack of songs, ballads, and
stanzas, but of a character by no means entitled to the appellation
of poetry. I have noted down from recitation a considerable
portion of what they call their poetry, but the only tolerable
specimen of verse which I ever discovered amongst them was the
following stanza, which, after all, is not entitled to very high

"Ichasoa urac aundi,
Estu ondoric agueri -
Pasaco ninsaqueni andic
Maitea icustea gatic."

i.e. "The waters of the sea are vast, and their bottom cannot be
seen: but over them I will pass, that I may behold my love."

The Basques are a singing rather than a poetical people.
Notwithstanding the facility with which their tongue lends itself
to the composition of verse, they have never produced among them a
poet with the slightest pretensions to reputation; but their voices
are singularly sweet, and they are known to excel in musical
composition. It is the opinion of a certain author, the Abbe
D'Ilharce, who has written about them, that they derived the name
Cantabri, by which they were known to the Romans, from Khantor-ber,
signifying sweet singers. They possess much music of their own,
some of which is said to be exceedingly ancient. Of this music
specimens were published at Donostian (San Sebastian) in the year
1826, edited by a certain Juan Ignacio Iztueta. These consist of
wild and thrilling marches, to the sound of which it is believed
that the ancient Basques were in the habit of descending from their
mountains to combat with the Romans, and subsequently with the
Moors. Whilst listening to them it is easy to suppose oneself in
the close vicinity of some desperate encounter. We seem to hear
the charge of cavalry on the sounding plain, the clash of swords,
and the rushing of men down the gorges of hills. This music is
accompanied with words, but such words! Nothing can be imagined
more stupid, commonplace, and uninteresting. So far from being
martial, they relate to everyday incidents and appear to have no
connexion whatever with the music. They are evidently of modern

In person the Basques are of the middle size, and are active and
athletic. They are in general of fair complexions and handsome
features, and in appearance bear no slight resemblance to certain
Tartar tribes of the Caucasus. Their bravery is unquestionable,
and they are considered as the best soldiery belonging to the
Spanish crown: a fact highly corroborative of the supposition that
they are of Tartar origin, the Tartars being of all races the most
warlike, and amongst whom the most remarkable conquerors have been
produced. They are faithful and honest, and capable of much
disinterested attachment; kind and hospitable to strangers; all of
which points are far from being at variance with the Tartan
character. But they are somewhat dull, and their capacities are by
no means of a high order, and in these respects they again resemble
the Tartars.

No people on earth are prouder than the Basques, but theirs is a
kind of republican pride. They have no nobility amongst them, and
no one will acknowledge a superior. The poorest carman is as proud
as the governor of Tolosa. "He is more powerful than I," he will
say, "but I am of as good blood; perhaps hereafter I may become a
governor myself." They abhor servitude, at least out of their own
country; and though circumstances frequently oblige them to seek
masters, it is very rare to find them filling the places of common
domestics; they are stewards, secretaries, accountants, etc. True
it is, that it was my own fortune to obtain a Basque domestic; but
then he always treated me more as an equal than a master, would sit
down in my presence, give me his advice unasked, and enter into
conversation with me at all times and occasions. Did I check him!
Certainly not! For in that case he would have left me, and a more
faithful creature I never knew. His fate was a mournful one, as
will appear in the sequel.

I have said that the Basques abhor servitude, and are rarely to be
found serving as domestics amongst the Spaniards. I allude,
however, merely to the males. The females, on the contrary, have
no objection whatever to enter houses as servants. Women, indeed,
amongst the Basques are not looked upon with all the esteem which
they deserve, and are considered as fitted for little else than to
perform menial offices, even as in the East, where they are viewed
in the light of servants and slaves. The Basque females differ
widely in character from the men; they are quick and vivacious, and
have in general much more talent. They are famous for their skill
as cooks, and in most respectable houses of Madrid a Biscayan
female may be found in the kitchen, queen supreme of the culinary


The Prohibition--Gospel Persecuted--Charge of Sorcery--Ofalia.

About the middle of January a swoop was made upon me by my enemies,
in the shape of a peremptory prohibition from the political
governor of Madrid to sell any more New Testaments. This measure
by no means took me by surprise, as I had for some time previously
been expecting something of the kind, on account of the political
sentiments of the ministers then in power. I forthwith paid a
visit to Sir George Villiers, informing him of what had occurred.
He promised to do all he could to cause the prohibition to be
withdrawn. Unfortunately at this time he had not much influence,
having opposed with all his might the entrance of the moderado
ministry to power, and the nomination of Ofalia to the presidency
of the cabinet. I, however, never lost confidence in the Almighty,
in whose cause I was engaged.

Matters were going on very well before this check. The demand for
Testaments was becoming considerable, so much so, that the clergy
were alarmed, and this step was the consequence. But they had
previously recourse to another, well worthy of them, they attempted
to act upon my fears. One of the ruffians of Madrid, called
Manolos, came up to me one night, in a dark street, and told me
that unless I discontinued selling my "Jewish books," I should have
a knife "nailed in my heart"; but I told him to go home, say his
prayers, and tell his employers that I pitied them; whereupon he
turned away with an oath. A few days after, I received an order to
send two copies of the Testament to the office of the political
governor, with which I complied, and in less than twenty-four hours
an alguazil arrived at the shop with a notice prohibiting the
further sale of the work.

One circumstance rejoiced me. Singular as it may appear, the
authorities took no measures to cause my little despacho to be
closed, and I received no prohibition respecting the sale of any
work but the New Testament, and as the Gospel of Saint Luke, in
Romany and Basque, would within a short time be ready for delivery,
I hoped to carry on matters in a small way till better times should

I was advised to erase from the shop windows the words "Despacho of
the British and Foreign Bible Society." This, however, I refused
to do. Those words had tended very much to call attention, which
was my grand object. Had I attempted to conduct things in an
underhand manner, I should, at the time of which I am speaking,
scarcely have sold thirty copies in Madrid, instead of nearly three
hundred. People who know me not, may be disposed to call me rash;
but I am far from being so, as I never adopt a venturous course
when any other is open to me. I am not, however, a person to be
terrified by any danger, when I see that braving it is the only way
to achieve an object.

The booksellers were unwilling to sell my work; I was compelled to
establish a shop of my own. Every shop in Madrid has a name. What
name could I give it but the true one? I was not ashamed of my
cause or my colours. I hoisted them, and fought beneath them not
without success.

The priestly party in Madrid, in the meantime, spared no effort to
vilify me. They started a publication called The Friend of the
Christian Religion, in which a stupid but furious attack upon me
appeared, which I, however, treated with the contempt it deserved.
But not satisfied with this, they endeavoured to incite the
populace against me, by telling them that I was a sorcerer, and a
companion of Gypsies and witches, and their agents even called me
so in the streets. That I was an associate of Gypsies and fortune-
tellers I do not deny. Why should I be ashamed of their company
when my Master mingled with publicans and thieves? Many of the
Gypsy race came frequently to visit me; received instruction, and
heard parts of the Gospel read to them in their own language, and
when they were hungry and faint, I gave them to eat and drink.
This might be deemed sorcery in Spain, but I am not without hope
that it will be otherwise estimated in England, and had I perished
at this period, I think there are some who would have been disposed
to acknowledge that I had not lived altogether in vain (always as
an instrument of the "Most Highest"), having been permitted to turn
one of the most valuable books of God into the speech of the most
degraded of his creatures.

In the meantime I endeavoured to enter into negotiations with the
ministry, for the purpose of obtaining permission to sell the New
Testament in Madrid, and the nullification of the prohibition. I
experienced, however, great opposition, which I was unable to
surmount. Several of the ultra-popish bishops, then resident in
Madrid, had denounced the Bible, the Bible Society, and myself.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding their powerful and united efforts,
they were unable to effect their principal object, namely, my
expulsion from Madrid and Spain. The Count Ofalia, notwithstanding
he had permitted himself to be made the instrument, to a certain
extent, of these people, would not consent to be pushed to such a
length. Throughout this affair, I cannot find words sufficiently
strong to do justice to the zeal and interest which Sir George
Villiers displayed in the cause of the Testament. He had various
interviews with Ofalia on the subject, and in these he expressed to
him his sense of the injustice and tyranny which had been practised
in this instance towards his countryman.

Ofalia had been moved by these remonstrances, and more than once
promised to do all in his power to oblige Sir George; but then the
bishops again beset him, and playing upon his political if not
religious fears, prevented him from acting a just, honest, and
honourable part. At the desire of Sir George Villiers, I drew up a
brief account of the Bible Society, and an exposition of its views,
especially in respect to Spain, which he presented with his own
hands to the Count. I shall not trouble the reader by inserting
this memorial, but content myself with observing, that I made no
attempts to flatter and cajole, but expressed myself honestly and
frankly, as a Christian ought. Ofalia, on reading it, said, "What
a pity that this is a Protestant society, and that all its members
are not Catholics."

A few days subsequently, to my great astonishment, he sent a
message to me by a friend, requesting that I would send him a copy
of my Gypsy Gospel. I may as well here state, that the fame of
this work, though not yet published, had already spread like
wildfire through Madrid, and every person was passionately eager to
possess a copy; indeed, several grandees of Spain sent messages
with similar requests, all of which I however denied. I instantly
resolved to take advantage of this overture on the part of Count
Ofalia, and to call on him myself. I therefore caused a copy of
the Gospel to be handsomely bound, and proceeding to the palace,
was instantly admitted to him. He was a dusky, diminutive person,
between fifty and sixty years of age, with false hair and teeth,
but exceedingly gentlemanly manners. He received me with great
affability, and thanked me for my present; but on my proceeding to
speak of the New Testament, he told me that the subject was
surrounded with difficulties, and that the great body of the clergy
had taken up the matter against me; he conjured me, however, to be
patient and peaceable, in which case he said he would endeavour to
devise some plan to satisfy me. Amongst other things, he observed
that the bishops hated a sectarian more than an Atheist. Whereupon
I replied, that, like the Pharisees of old, they cared more for the
gold of the temple than the temple itself. Throughout the whole of
our interview he evidently laboured under great fear, and was
continually looking behind and around him, seemingly in dread of
being overheard, which brought to my mind an expression of a friend
of mine, that if there be any truth in metempsychosis, the soul of
Count Ofalia must have originally belonged to a mouse. We parted
in kindness, and I went away, wondering by what strange chance this
poor man had become prime minister of a country like Spain.


The Two Gospels--The Alguazil--The Warrant--The Good Maria--The
Arrest--Sent to Prison--Reflections--The Reception--The Prison
Room--Redress Demanded.

At length the Gospel of Saint Luke in the Gypsy language was in a
state of readiness. I therefore deposited a certain number of
copies in the despacho, and announced them for sale. The Basque,
which was by this time also printed, was likewise advertised. For
this last work there was little demand. Not so, however, for the
Gypsy Luke, of which I could have easily disposed of the whole
edition in less than a fortnight. Long, however, before this
period had expired, the clergy were up in arms. "Sorcery!" said
one bishop. "There is more in this than we can dive into,"
exclaimed a second. "He will convert all Spain by means of the
Gypsy language," cried a third. And then came the usual chorus on
such occasions, of Que infamia! Que picardia! At last, having
consulted together, away they hurried to their tool the corregidor,
or, according to the modern term, the gefe politico of Madrid. I
have forgotten the name of this worthy, of whom I had myself no
personal knowledge whatever. Judging from his actions, however,
and from common report, I should say that he was a stupid wrong-
headed creature, savage withal--a melange of borrico, mule, and
wolf. Having an inveterate antipathy to all foreigners, he lent a
willing ear to the complaint of my accusers, and forthwith gave
orders to make a seizure of all the copies of the Gypsy Gospel
which could be found in the despacho. The consequence was, that a
numerous body of alguazils directed their steps to the Calle del
principe; some thirty copies of the book in question were pounced
upon, and about the same number of Saint Luke in Basque. With this
spoil these satellites returned in triumph to the gefatura
politica, where they divided the copies of the Gypsy volume amongst
themselves, selling subsequently the greater number at a large
price, the book being in the greatest demand, and thus becoming
unintentionally agents of an heretical society. But every one must
live by his trade, say these people, and they lose no opportunity
of making their words good, by disposing to the best advantage of
any booty which falls into their hands. As no person cared about
the Basque Gospel, it was safely stowed away, with other
unmarketable captures, in the warehouses of the office.

The Gypsy Gospels had now been seized, at least as many as were
exposed for sale in the despacho. The corregidor and his friends,
however, were of opinion that many more might be obtained by means
of a little management. Fellows, therefore, hangers-on of the
police office, were daily dispatched to the shop in all kinds of
disguises, inquiring, with great seeming anxiety, for "Gypsy
books," and offering high prices for copies. They, however,
returned to their employers empty-handed. My Gallegan was on his
guard, informing all who made inquiries, that books of no
description would be sold at the establishment for the present.
Which was in truth the case, as I had given him particular orders
to sell no more under any pretence whatever.

I got no credit, however, for my frank dealing. The corregidor and
his confederates could not persuade themselves but that by some
means mysterious and unknown to them, I was daily selling hundreds
of these Gypsy books, which were to revolutionize the country, and
annihilate the power of the Father of Rome. A plan was therefore
resolved upon, by means of which they hoped to have an opportunity
of placing me in a position which would incapacitate me for some
time from taking any active measures to circulate the Scriptures,
either in Gypsy or in any other language.

It was on the morning of the first of May, if I forget not, that an
unknown individual made his appearance in my apartment as I was
seated at breakfast; he was a mean-looking fellow, about the middle
stature, with a countenance on which knave was written in legible
characters. The hostess ushered him in, and then withdrew. I did
not like the appearance of my visitor, but assuming some degree of
courtesy, I requested him to sit down, and demanded his business.
"I come from his excellency the political chief of Madrid," he
replied, "and my business is to inform you that his excellency is
perfectly aware of your proceedings, and is at any time able to
prove that you are still disposing of in secret those evil books
which you have been forbidden to sell." "Is he so," I replied;
"pray let him do so forthwith, but what need of giving me
information?" "Perhaps," continued the fellow, "you think his
worship has no witnesses; know, however, that he has many, and
respectable ones too." "Doubtless," I replied, "and from the
respectability of your own appearance, you are perhaps one of them.
But you are occupying my time unprofitably; begone, therefore, and
tell whoever sent you, that I have by no means a high opinion of
his wisdom." "I shall go when I please," retorted the fellow; "do
you know to whom you are speaking? Are you aware that if I think
fit I can search your apartment, yes, even below your bed? What
have we here," he continued; and commenced with his stick poking a
heap of papers which lay upon a chair; "what have we here; are
these also papers of the Gypsies?" I instantly determined upon
submitting no longer to this behaviour, and taking the fellow by
the arm, led him out of the apartment, and then still holding him,
conducted him downstairs from the third floor in which I lived,
into the street, looking him steadfastly in the face the whole

The fellow had left his sombrero on the table, which I dispatched
to him by the landlady, who delivered it into his hand as he stood
in the street staring with distended eyes at the balcony of my

"A trampa has been laid for you, Don Jorge," said Maria Diaz, when
she had reascended from the street; "that corchete came here with
no other intention than to have a dispute with you; out of every
word you have said he will make a long history, as is the custom
with these people: indeed he said, as I handed him his hat, that
ere twenty-four hours were over, you should see the inside of the
prison of Madrid."

In effect, during the course of the morning, I was told that a
warrant had been issued for my apprehension. The prospect of
incarceration, however, did not fill me with much dismay; an
adventurous life and inveterate habits of wandering having long
familiarized me to situations of every kind, so much so as to feel
myself quite as comfortable in a prison as in the gilded chamber of
palaces; indeed more so, as in the former place I can always add to
my store of useful information, whereas in the latter, ennui
frequently assails me. I had, moreover, been thinking for some
time past of paying a visit to the prison, partly in the hope of
being able to say a few words of Christian instruction to the
criminals, and partly with the view of making certain
investigations in the robber language of Spain, a subject about
which I had long felt much curiosity; indeed, I had already made
application for admittance into the Carcel de la Corte, but had
found the matter surrounded with difficulties, as my friend Ofalia
would have said. I rather rejoiced then in the opportunity which
was now about to present itself of entering the prison, not in the
character of a visitor for an hour, but as a martyr, and as one
suffering in the holy cause of religion. I was determined,
however, to disappoint my enemies for that day at least, and to
render null the threat of the alguazil, that I should be imprisoned
within twenty-four hours. I therefore took up my abode for the
rest of the day in a celebrated French tavern in the Calle del
Caballero de Gracia, which, as it was one of the most fashionable
and public places in Madrid, I naturally concluded was one of the
last where the corregidor would think of seeking me.

About ten at night, Maria Diaz, to whom I had communicated the
place of my retreat, arrived with her son, Juan Lopez. "O senor,"
said she on seeing me, "they are already in quest of you; the
alcalde of the barrio, with a large comitiva of alguazils and such
like people, have just been at our house with a warrant for your
imprisonment from the corregidor. They searched the whole house,
and were much disappointed at not finding you. Wo is me, what will
they do when they catch you?" "Be under no apprehensions, good
Maria," said I; "you forget that I am an Englishman, and so it
seems does the corregidor. Whenever he catches me, depend upon it
he will be glad enough to let me go. For the present, however, we
will permit him to follow his own course, for the spirit of folly
seems to have seized him."

I slept at the tavern, and in the forenoon of the following day
repaired to the embassy, where I had an interview with Sir George,
to whom I related every circumstance of the affair. He said that
he could scarcely believe that the corregidor entertained any
serious intentions of imprisoning me: in the first place, because
I had committed no offence; and in the second, because I was not
under the jurisdiction of that functionary, but under that of the
captain-general, who was alone empowered to decide upon matters
which relate to foreigners, and before whom I must be brought in
the presence of the consul of my nation. "However," said he,
"there is no knowing to what length these jacks in office may go.
I therefore advise you, if you are under any apprehension, to
remain as my guest at the embassy for a few days, for here you will
be quite safe." I assured him that I was under no apprehension
whatever, having long been accustomed to adventures of this kind.
From the apartment of Sir George, I proceeded to that of the first
secretary of embassy, Mr. Southern, with whom I entered into
conversation. I had scarcely been there a minute when my servant
Francisco rushed in, much out of breath, and in violent agitation,
exclaiming in Basque, "Niri jauna (master mine), the alguaziloac
and the corchetoac, and all the other lapurrac (thieves) are again
at the house. They seem half mad, and not being able to find you,
are searching your papers, thinking, I suppose, that you are hid
among them." Mr. Southern here interrupting him, inquired of me
what all this meant. Whereupon I told him, saying at the same
time, that it was my intention to proceed at once to my lodgings.
"But perhaps these fellows will arrest you," said Mr. S., "before
we can interfere." "I must take my chance as to that," I replied,
and presently afterwards departed.

Ere, however, I had reached the middle of the street of Alcala, two
fellows came up to me, and telling me that I was their prisoner,
commanded me to follow them to the office of the corregidor. They
were in fact alguazils, who, suspecting that I might enter or come
out of the embassy, had stationed themselves in the neighbourhood.
I instantly turned round to Francisco, and told him in Basque to
return to the embassy and to relate there to the secretary what had
just occurred. The poor fellow set off like lightning, turning
half round, however, to shake his fist, and to vent a Basque
execration at the two lapurrac, as he called the alguazils.

They conducted me to the gefatura or office of the corregidor,
where they ushered me into a large room, and motioned me to sit
down on a wooden bench. They then stationed themselves on each
side of me: there were at least twenty people in the apartment
beside ourselves, evidently from their appearance officials of the
establishment. They were all well dressed, for the most part in
the French fashion, in round hats, coats, and pantaloons, and yet
they looked what in reality they were, Spanish alguazils, spies,
and informers, and Gil Blas, could he have waked from his sleep of
two centuries, would, notwithstanding the change of fashion, have
had no difficulty in recognizing them. They glanced at me as they
stood lounging about the room; they gathered themselves together in
a circle and began conversing in whispers. I heard one of them
say, "he understands the seven Gypsy jargons." Then presently
another, evidently from his language an Andalusian, said, "Es muy
diestro (he is very skilful), and can ride a horse and dart a knife
full as well as if he came from my own country." Thereupon they
all turned round and regarded me with a species of interest,
evidently mingled with respect, which most assuredly they would not
have exhibited had they conceived that I was merely an honest man
bearing witness in a righteous cause.

I waited patiently on the bench at least one hour, expecting every
moment to be summoned before my lord the corregidor. I suppose,
however, that I was not deemed worthy of being permitted to see so
exalted a personage, for at the end of that time, an elderly man,
one however evidently of the alguazil genus, came into the room and
advanced directly towards me. "Stand up," said he. I obeyed.
"What is your name?" he demanded. I told him. "Then," he replied,
exhibiting a paper which he held in his hand, "Senor, it is the
will of his excellency the corregidor that you be forthwith sent to

He looked at me steadfastly as he spoke, perhaps expecting that I
should sink into the earth at the formidable name of prison; I
however only smiled. He then delivered the paper, which I suppose
was the warrant for my committal, into the hand of one of my two
captors, and obeying a sign which they made, I followed them.

I subsequently learned that the secretary of legation, Mr.
Southern, had been dispatched by Sir George, as soon as the latter
had obtained information of my arrest, and had been waiting at the
office during the greater part of the time that I was there. He
had demanded an audience of the corregidor, in which he had
intended to have remonstrated with him, and pointed out to him the
danger to which he was subjecting himself by the rash step which he
was taking. The sullen functionary, however, had refused to see
him, thinking, perhaps, that to listen to reason would be a
dereliction of dignity: by this conduct, however, he most
effectually served me, as no person, after such a specimen of
uncalled-for insolence, felt disposed to question the violence and
injustice which had been practised towards me.

The alguazils conducted me across the Plaza Mayor to the Carcel de
la Corte, or prison of the court, as it is called. Whilst going
across the square, I remembered that this was the place where, in
"the good old times," the Inquisition of Spain was in the habit of
holding its solemn Autos da fe, and I cast my eye to the balcony of
the city hall, where at the most solemn of them all, the last of
the Austrian line in Spain sat, and after some thirty heretics, of
both sexes, had been burnt by fours and by fives, wiped his face,
perspiring with heat, and black with smoke, and calmly inquired,
"No hay mas?" for which exemplary proof of patience he was much
applauded by his priests and confessors, who subsequently poisoned
him. "And here am I," thought I, "who have done more to wound
Popery, than all the poor Christian martyrs that ever suffered in
this accursed square, merely sent to prison, from which I am sure
to be liberated in a few days, with credit and applause. Pope of
Rome! I believe you to be as malicious as ever, but you are sadly
deficient in power. You are become paralytic, Batuschca, and your
club has degenerated to a crutch."

We arrived at the prison, which stands in a narrow street not far
from the great square. We entered a dusky passage, at the end of
which was a wicket door. My conductors knocked, a fierce visage
peered through the wicket; there was an exchange of words, and in a
few moments I found myself within the prison of Madrid, in a kind
of corridor which overlooked at a considerable altitude what
appeared to be a court, from which arose a hubbub of voices, and
occasionally wild shouts and cries. Within the corridor which
served as a kind of office, were several people; one of them sat
behind a desk, and to him the alguazils went up, and after
discoursing with him some time in low tones, delivered the warrant
into his hands. He perused it with attention, then rising he
advanced to me. What a figure! He was about forty years of age,
and his height might have amounted to some six feet two inches, had
he not been curved much after the fashion of the letter S. No
weazel ever appeared lanker, and he looked as if a breath of air
would have been sufficient to blow him away; his face might
certainly have been called handsome, had it not been for its
extraordinary and portentous meagreness; his nose was like an
eagle's bill, his teeth white as ivory, his eyes black (Oh how
black!) and fraught with a strange expression, his skin was dark,
and the hair of his head like the plumage of the raven. A deep
quiet smile dwelt continually on his features; but with all the
quiet it was a cruel smile, such a one as would have graced the
countenance of a Nero. "Mais en revanche personne n'etoit plus
honnete." "Caballero," said he, "allow me to introduce myself to
you as the alcayde of this prison. I perceive by this paper that I
am to have the honour of your company for a time, a short time
doubtless, beneath this roof; I hope you will banish every
apprehension from your mind. I am charged to treat you with all
the respect which is due to the illustrious nation to which you
belong, and which a cavalier of such exalted category as yourself
is entitled to expect. A needless charge, it is true, as I should
only have been too happy of my own accord to have afforded you
every comfort and attention. Caballero, you will rather consider
yourself here as a guest than a prisoner; you will be permitted to
roam over every part of this house whenever you think proper. You
will find matters here not altogether below the attention of a
philosophic mind! Pray, issue whatever commands you may think fit
to the turnkeys and officials, even as if they were your own
servants. I will now have the honour of conducting you to your
apartment--the only one at present unoccupied. We invariably
reserve it for cavaliers of distinction. I am happy to say that my
orders are again in consonance with my inclination. No charge
whatever will be made for it to you, though the daily hire of it is
not unfrequently an ounce of gold. I entreat you, therefore, to
follow me, cavalier, who am at all times and seasons the most
obedient and devoted of your servants." Here he took off his hat
and bowed profoundly.

Such was the speech of the alcayde of the prison of Madrid; a
speech delivered in pure sonorous Castilian, with calmness,
gravity, and almost with dignity; a speech which would have done
honour to a gentleman of high birth, to Monsieur Basompierre, of
the Old Bastile, receiving an Italian prince, or the high constable
of the Tower an English duke attainted of high treason. Now, who
in the name of wonder was this alcayde?

One of the greatest rascals in all Spain. A fellow who had more
than once by his grasping cupidity, and by his curtailment of the
miserable rations of the prisoners, caused an insurrection in the
court below only to be repressed by bloodshed, and by summoning
military aid; a fellow of low birth, who, only five years previous,
had been DRUMMER to a band of royalist volunteers!

But Spain is the land of extraordinary characters.

I followed the alcayde to the end of the corridor, where was a
massive grated door, on each side of which sat a grim fellow of a
turnkey. The door was opened, and turning to the right we
proceeded down another corridor, in which were many people walking
about, whom I subsequently discovered to be prisoners like myself,
but for political offences. At the end of this corridor, which
extended the whole length of the patio, we turned into another, and
the first apartment in this was the one destined for myself. It
was large and lofty, but totally destitute of every species of
furniture, with the exception of a huge wooden pitcher, intended to
hold my daily allowance of water. "Caballero," said the alcayde,
"the apartment is without furniture, as you see. It is already the
third hour of the tarde, I therefore advise you to lose no time in
sending to your lodgings for a bed and whatever you may stand in
need of, the llavero here shall do your bidding. Caballero, adieu
till I see you again."

I followed his advice, and writing a note in pencil to Maria Diaz,
I dispatched it by the llavero, and then sitting down on the wooden
pitcher, I fell into a reverie, which continued for a considerable

Night arrived, and so did Maria Diaz, attended by two porters and
Francisco, all loaded with furniture. A lamp was lighted, charcoal
was kindled in the brasero, and the prison gloom was to a certain
degree dispelled.

I now left my seat on the pitcher, and sitting down on a chair,
proceeded to dispatch some wine and viands, which my good hostess
had not forgotten to bring with her. Suddenly Mr. Southern
entered. He laughed heartily at finding me engaged in the manner I
have described. "B-," said he, "you are the man to get through the
world, for you appear to take all things coolly, and as matters of
course. That, however, which most surprises me with respect to you
is, your having so many friends; here you are in prison, surrounded
by people ministering to your comforts. Your very servant is your
friend, instead of being your worst enemy, as is usually the case.
That Basque of yours is a noble fellow. I shall never forget how
he spoke for you, when he came running to the embassy to inform us
of your arrest. He interested both Sir George and myself in the
highest degree: should you ever wish to part with him, I hope you
will give me the refusal of his services. But now to other
matters." He then informed me that Sir George had already sent in
an official note to Ofalia, demanding redress for such a wanton
outrage on the person of a British subject. "You must remain in
prison," said he, "to-night, but depend upon it that to-morrow, if
you are disposed, you may quit in triumph." "I am by no means
disposed for any such thing," I replied. "They have put me in
prison for their pleasure, and I intend to remain here for my own."
"If the confinement is not irksome to you," said Mr. Southern, "I
think, indeed, it will be your wisest plan; the government have
committed themselves sadly with regard to you; and, to speak
plainly, we are by no means sorry for it. They have on more than
one occasion treated ourselves very cavalierly, and we have now, if
you continue firm, an excellent opportunity of humbling their
insolence. I will instantly acquaint Sir George with your
determination, and you shall hear from us early on the morrow." He
then bade me farewell; and flinging myself on my bed, I was soon
asleep in the prison of Madrid.


Ofalia--The Juez--Carcel do la Corte--Sunday in Prison--Robber
Dress--Father and Son--Characteristic Behaviour--The Frenchman--
Prison Allowance--Valley of the Shadow--Pure Castilian--Balseiro--
The Cave--Robber Glory.

Ofalia quickly perceived that the imprisonment of a British subject
in a manner so illegal as that which had attended my own, was
likely to be followed by rather serious consequences. Whether he
himself had at all encouraged the corregidor in his behaviour
towards me, it is impossible to say; the probability is that he had
not: the latter, however, was an officer of his own appointing,
for whose actions himself and the government were to a certain
extent responsible. Sir George had already made a very strong
remonstrance upon the subject, and had even gone so far as to state
in an official note that he should desist from all farther
communication with the Spanish government until full and ample
reparation had been afforded me for the violence to which I had
been subjected. Ofalia's reply was, that immediate measures should
be taken for my liberation, and that it would be my own fault if I
remained in prison. He forthwith ordered a juez de la primera
instancia, a kind of solicitor-general, to wait upon me, who was
instructed to hear my account of the affair, and then to dismiss me
with an admonition to be cautious for the future. My friends of
the embassy, however, had advised me how to act in such a case.
Accordingly, when the juez on the second night of my imprisonment
made his appearance at the prison, and summoned me before him, I
went, but on his proceeding to question me, I absolutely refused to
answer. "I deny your right to put any questions to me," said I; "I
entertain, however, no feelings of disrespect to the government or
to yourself, Caballero Juez; but I have been illegally imprisoned.
So accomplished a jurist as yourself cannot fail to be aware that,
according to the laws of Spain, I, as a foreigner, could not be
committed to prison for the offence with which I had been charged,
without previously being conducted before the captain-general of
this royal city, whose duty it is to protect foreigners, and see
that the laws of hospitality are not violated in their persons."

Juez.--Come, come, Don Jorge, I see what you are aiming at; but
listen to reason: I will not now speak to you as a juez but as a
friend who wishes you well, and who entertains a profound reverence
for the British nation. This is a foolish affair altogether; I
will not deny that the political chief acted somewhat hastily on
the information of a person not perhaps altogether worthy of
credit. No great damage, however, has been done to you, and to a
man of the world like yourself, a little adventure of this kind is
rather calculated to afford amusement than anything else. Now be
advised, forget what has happened; you know that it is the part and
duty of a Christian to forgive; so, Don Jorge, I advise you to
leave this place forthwith. I dare say you are getting tired of
it. You are this moment free to depart; repair at once to your
lodgings, where, I promise you, that no one shall be permitted to
interrupt you for the future. It is getting late, and the prison
doors will speedily be closed for the night. Vamos, Don Jorge, a
la casa, a la posada!

Myself.--"But Paul said unto them, they have beaten us openly
uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do
they thrust us out privily? Nay, verily: but let them come
themselves and fetch us out."

I then bowed to the juez, who shrugged his shoulders and took
snuff. On leaving the apartment I turned to the alcayde, who stood
at the door: "Take notice," said I, "that I will not quit this
prison till I have received full satisfaction for being sent hither
uncondemned. You may expel me if you please, but any attempt to do
so shall be resisted with all the bodily strength of which I am

"Your worship is right," said the alcayde with a bow, but in a low

Sir George, on hearing of this affair, sent me a letter in which he
highly commanded my resolution not to leave the prison for the
present, at the same time begging me to let him know if there were
anything that he could send me from the embassy to render my
situation more tolerable.

I will now leave for the present my own immediate affairs, and
proceed to give some account of the prison of Madrid and its

The Carcel de la Corte, where I now was, though the principal
prison of Madrid, is one which certainly in no respect does credit
to the capital of Spain. Whether it was originally intended for
the purpose to which it is at present applied, I have no
opportunity of knowing. The chances, however, are, that it was
not; indeed it was not till of late years that the practice of
building edifices expressly intended and suited for the
incarceration of culprits came at all into vogue. Castles,
convents, and deserted palaces, have in all countries, at different
times, been converted into prisons, which practice still holds good
upon the greater part of the continent, and more particularly in
Spain and Italy, which accounts, to a certain extent, for the
insecurity of the prisons, and the misery, want of cleanliness, and
unhealthiness which in general pervade them.

I shall not attempt to enter into a particular description of the
prison of Madrid, indeed it would be quite impossible to describe
so irregular and rambling an edifice. Its principal features
consisted of two courts, the one behind the other, intended for the
great body of the prisoners to take air and recreation in. Three
large vaulted dungeons or calabozos occupied three sides of this
court, immediately below the corridors of which I have already
spoken. These dungeons were roomy enough to contain respectively
from one hundred to one hundred and fifty prisoners, who were at
night secured therein with lock and bar, but during the day were
permitted to roam about the courts as they thought fit. The second
court was considerably larger than the first, though it contained
but two dungeons, horribly filthy and disgusting places; this
second court being used for the reception of the lower grades of
thieves. Of the two dungeons one was, if possible, yet more
horrible than the other; it was called the gallineria, or chicken
coop, and within it every night were pent up the young fry of the
prison, wretched boys from seven to fifteen years of age, the
greater part almost in a state of nudity. The common bed of all
the inmates of these dungeons was the ground, between which and
their bodies nothing intervened, save occasionally a manta or
horse-cloth, or perhaps a small mattress; this latter luxury was,
however, of exceedingly rare occurrence.

Besides the calabozos connected with the courts, were other
dungeons in various parts of the prison; some of them quite dark,
intended for the reception of those whom it might be deemed
expedient to treat with peculiar severity. There was likewise a
ward set apart for females. Connected with the principal corridor
were many small apartments, where resided prisoners confined for
debt or for political offences. And, lastly, there was a small
capilla or chapel, in which prisoners cast for death passed the
last three days of their existence in company of their ghostly

I shall not soon forget my first Sunday in prison. Sunday is the
gala day of the prison, at least of that of Madrid, and whatever
robber finery is to be found within it, is sure to be exhibited on
that day of holiness. There is not a set of people in the world
more vain than robbers in general, more fond of cutting a figure
whenever they have an opportunity, and of attracting the eyes of
their fellow creatures by the gallantry of their appearance. The
famous Sheppard of olden times delighted in sporting a suit of
Genoese velvet, and when he appeared in public generally wore a
silver-hilted sword at his side; whilst Vaux and Hayward, heroes of
a later day, were the best dressed men on the pave of London. Many
of the Italian bandits go splendidly decorated, and the very Gypsy
robber has a feeling for the charms of dress; the cap alone of the
Haram Pasha, or leader of the cannibal Gypsy band which infested
Hungary towards the conclusion of the last century, was adorned
with gold and jewels to the value of four thousand guilders.
Observe, ye vain and frivolous, how vanity and crime harmonize.
The Spanish robbers are as fond of this species of display as their
brethren of other lands, and, whether in prison or out of it, are
never so happy as when, decked out in a profusion of white linen,
they can loll in the sun, or walk jauntily up and down.

Snow-white linen, indeed, constitutes the principal feature in the
robber foppery of Spain. Neither coat nor jacket is worn over the
shirt, the sleeves of which are wide and flowing, only a waistcoat
of green or blue silk, with an abundance of silver buttons, which
are intended more for show than use, as the vest is seldom
buttoned. Then there are wide trousers, something after the
Turkish fashion; around the waist is a crimson faja or girdle, and
about the head is tied a gaudily coloured handkerchief from the
loom of Barcelona; light pumps and silk stockings complete the
robber's array. This dress is picturesque enough, and well adapted
to the fine sunshiny weather of the Peninsula; there is a dash of
effeminacy about it, however, hardly in keeping with the robber's
desperate trade. It must not, however, be supposed that it is
every robber who can indulge in all this luxury; there are various
grades of thieves, some poor enough, with scarcely a rag to cover
them. Perhaps in the crowded prison of Madrid, there were not more
than twenty who exhibited the dress which I have attempted to
describe above; these were jente de reputacion, tip-top thieves,
mostly young fellows, who, though they had no money of their own,
were supported in prison by their majas and amigas, females of a
certain class, who form friendships with robbers, and whose glory
and delight it is to administer to the vanity of these fellows with
the wages of their own shame and abasement. These females supplied
their cortejos with the snowy linen, washed, perhaps, by their own
hands in the waters of the Manzanares, for the display of the
Sunday, when they would themselves make their appearance dressed a
la maja, and from the corridors would gaze with admiring eyes upon
the robbers vapouring about in the court below.

Amongst those of the snowy linen who most particularly attracted my
attention, were a father and son; the former was a tall athletic
figure of about thirty, by profession a housebreaker, and
celebrated throughout Madrid for the peculiar dexterity which he
exhibited in his calling. He was now in prison for a rather
atrocious murder committed in the dead of night, in a house at
Caramanchel, in which his only accomplice was his son, a child
under seven years of age. "The apple," as the Danes say, "had not
fallen far from the tree"; the imp was in every respect the
counterpart of the father, though in miniature. He, too, wore the
robber shirt sleeves, the robber waistcoat with the silver buttons,
the robber kerchief round his brow, and, ridiculous enough, a long
Manchegan knife in the crimson faja. He was evidently the pride of
the ruffian father, who took all imaginable care of this chick of
the gallows, would dandle him on his knee, and would occasionally
take the cigar from his own moustached lips and insert it in the
urchin's mouth. The boy was the pet of the court, for the father
was one of the valientes of the prison, and those who feared his
prowess, and wished to pay their court to him, were always fondling
the child. What an enigma is this world of ours! How dark and
mysterious are the sources of what is called crime and virtue! If
that infant wretch become eventually a murderer like his father, is
he to blame? Fondled by robbers, already dressed as a robber, born
of a robber, whose own history was perhaps similar. Is it right?

O, man, man, seek not to dive into the mystery of moral good and
evil; confess thyself a worm, cast thyself on the earth, and murmur
with thy lips in the dust, Jesus, Jesus!

What most surprised me with respect to the prisoners, was their
good behaviour; I call it good when all things are taken into
consideration, and when I compare it with that of the general class
of prisoners in foreign lands. They had their occasional bursts of
wild gaiety, their occasional quarrels, which they were in the
habit of settling in a corner of the inferior court with their long
knives; the result not unfrequently being death, or a dreadful gash
in the face or the abdomen; but, upon the whole, their conduct was
infinitely superior to what might have been expected from the
inmates of such a place. Yet this was not the result of coercion,
or any particular care which was exercised over them; for perhaps
in no part of the world are prisoners so left to themselves and so
utterly neglected as in Spain: the authorities having no farther
anxiety about them, than to prevent their escape; not the slightest
attention being paid to their moral conduct and not a thought
bestowed upon their health, comfort or mental improvement, whilst
within the walls. Yet in this prison of Madrid, and I may say in
Spanish prisons in general, for I have been an inmate of more than
one, the ears of the visitor are never shocked with horrid
blasphemy and obscenity, as in those of some other countries, and
more particularly in civilized France; nor are his eyes outraged
and himself insulted, as he would assuredly be, were he to look
down upon the courts from the galleries of the Bicetre. And yet in
this prison of Madrid were some of the most desperate characters in
Spain: ruffians who had committed acts of cruelly and atrocity
sufficient to make the flesh shudder. But gravity and sedateness
are the leading characteristics of the Spaniards, and the very
robber, except in those moments when he is engaged in his
occupation, and then no one is more sanguinary, pitiless, and
wolfishly eager for booty, is a being who can be courteous and
affable, and who takes pleasure in conducting himself with sobriety
and decorum.

Happily, perhaps, for me, that my acquaintance with the ruffians of
Spain commenced and ended in the towns about which I wandered, and
in the prisons into which I was cast for the Gospel's sake, and
that, notwithstanding my long and frequent journeys, I never came
in contact with them on the road or in the despoblado.

The most ill-conditioned being in the prison was a Frenchman,
though probably the most remarkable. He was about sixty years of
age, of the middle stature, but thin and meagre, like most of his
countrymen; he had a villainously-formed head, according to all the
rules of craniology, and his features were full of evil expression.
He wore no hat, and his clothes, though in appearance nearly new,
were of the coarsest description. He generally kept aloof from the
rest, and would stand for hours together leaning against the walls
with his arms folded, glaring sullenly on what was passing before
him. He was not one of the professed valientes, for his age
prevented his assuming so distinguished a character, and yet all
the rest appeared to hold him in a certain awe: perhaps they
feared his tongue, which he occasionally exerted in pouring forth
withering curses on those who incurred his displeasure. He spoke
perfectly good Spanish, and to my great surprise excellent Basque,
in which he was in the habit of conversing with Francisco, who,
lolling from the window of my apartment, would exchange jests and
witticisms with the prisoners in the court below, with whom he was
a great favourite.

One day when I was in the patio, to which I had free admission
whenever I pleased, by permission of the alcayde, I went up to the
Frenchman, who stood in his usual posture, leaning against the
wall, and offered him a cigar. I do not smoke myself, but it will
never do to mix among the lower classes of Spain unless you have a
cigar to present occasionally. The man glared at me ferociously
for a moment, and appeared to be on the point of refusing my offer
with perhaps a hideous execration. I repeated it, however,
pressing my hand against my heart, whereupon suddenly the grim
features relaxed, and with a genuine French grimace, and a low bow,
he accepted the cigar, exclaiming, "Ah, Monsieur, pardon, mais
c'est faire trop d'honneur a un pauvre diable comme moi."

"Not at all," said I, "we are both fellow prisoners in a foreign
land, and being so we ought to countenance each other. I hope that
whenever I have need of your co-operation in this prison you will
afford it me."

"Ah, Monsieur," exclaimed the Frenchman in rapture, "vous avez bien
raison; il faut que les eirangers se donnent la main dans ce . . .
pays de barbares. Tenez," he added, in a whisper, "if you have any
plan for escaping, and require my assistance, I have an arm and a
knife at your service: you may trust me, and that is more than you
could any of these sacres gens ici," glancing fiercely round at his
fellow prisoners.

"You appear to be no friend to Spain and the Spaniards," said I.
"I conclude that you have experienced injustice at their hands.
For what have they immured you in this place?"

"Pour rien du tout, c'est a dire pour une bagatelle; but what can
you expect from such animals? For what are you imprisoned? Did I
not hear say for Gypsyism and sorcery?"

"Perhaps you are here for your opinions?"

"Ah, mon Dieu, non; je ne suis pas homme a semblable betise. I
have no opinions. Je faisois . . . mais ce n'importe; je me trouve
ici, ou je creve de faim."

"I am sorry to see a brave man in such a distressed condition,"
said I; "have you nothing to subsist upon beyond the prison
allowance? Have you no friends?"

"Friends in this country, you mock me; here one has no friends,
unless one buy them. I am bursting with hunger; since I have been
here I have sold the clothes off my back, that I might eat, for the
prison allowance will not support nature, and of half of that we
are robbed by the Batu, as they call the barbarian of a governor.
Les haillons which now cover me were given by two or three devotees
who sometimes visit here. I would sell them if they would fetch
aught. I have not a sou, and for want of a few crowns I shall be
garroted within a month unless I can escape, though, as I told you
before, I have done nothing, a mere bagatelle; but the worst crimes
in Spain are poverty and misery."

"I have heard you speak Basque, are you from French Biscay?"

"I am from Bordeaux, Monsieur; but I have lived much on the Landes
and in Biscay, travaillant a mon metier. I see by your look that
you wish to know my history. I shall not tell it you. It contains
nothing that is remarkable. See, I have smoked out your cigar; you
may give me another, and add a dollar if you please, nous sommes
creves ici de faim. I would not say as much to a Spaniard, but I
have a respect for your countrymen; I know much of them; I have met
them at Maida and the other place." {18}

"Nothing remarkable in his history!" Why, or I greatly err, one
chapter of his life, had it been written, would have unfolded more
of the wild and wonderful than fifty volumes of what are in general
called adventures and hairbreadth escapes by land and sea. A
soldier! what a tale could that man have told of marches and
retreats, of battles lost and won, towns sacked, convents
plundered; perhaps he had seen the flames of Moscow ascending to
the clouds, and had "tried his strength with nature in the wintry
desert," pelted by the snow-storm, and bitten by the tremendous
cold of Russia: and what could he mean by plying his trade in
Biscay and the Landes, but that he had been a robber in those wild
regions, of which the latter is more infamous for brigandage and
crime than any other part of the French territory. Nothing
remarkable in his history! then what history in the world contains
aught that is remarkable?

I gave him the cigar and dollar: he received them, and then once
more folding his arms, leaned back against the wall and appeared to
sink gradually into one of his reveries. I looked him in the face
and spoke to him, but he did not seem either to hear or see me.
His mind was perhaps wandering in that dreadful valley of the
shadow, into which the children of earth, whilst living,
occasionally find their way; that dreadful region where there is no
water, where hope dwelleth not, where nothing lives but the undying
worm. This valley is the facsimile of hell, and he who has entered
it, has experienced here on earth for a time what the spirits of
the condemned are doomed to suffer through ages without end.

He was executed about a month from this time. The bagatelle for
which he was confined was robbery and murder by the following
strange device. In concert with two others, he hired a large house
in an unfrequented part of the town, to which place he would order
tradesmen to convey valuable articles, which were to be paid for on
delivery; those who attended paid for their credulity with the loss
of their lives and property. Two or three had fallen into the
snare. I wished much to have had some private conversation with
this desperate man, and in consequence begged of the alcayde to
allow him to dine with me in my own apartment; whereupon Monsieur
Basompierre, for so I will take the liberty of calling the
governor, his real name having escaped my memory, took off his hat,
and, with his usual smile and bow, replied in purest Castilian,
"English Cavalier, and I hope I may add friend, pardon me, that it
is quite out of my power to gratify your request, founded, I have
no doubt, on the most admirable sentiments of philosophy. Any of
the other gentlemen beneath my care shall, at any time you desire
it, be permitted to wait upon you in your apartment. I will even
go so far as to cause their irons, if irons they wear, to be
knocked off in order that they may partake of your refection with
that comfort which is seemly and convenient: but to the gentleman
in question I must object; he is the most evil disposed of the
whole of this family, and would most assuredly breed a funcion
either in your apartment or in the corridor, by an attempt to
escape. Cavalier, me pesa, but I cannot accede to your request.
But with respect to any other gentleman, I shall be most happy,
even Balseiro, who, though strange things are told of him, still
knows how to comport himself, and in whose behaviour there is
something both of formality and politeness, shall this day share
your hospitality if you desire it, Cavalier."

Of Balseiro I have already had occasion to speak in the former part
of this narrative. He was now confined in an upper story of the
prison, in a strong room, with several other malefactors. He had
been found guilty of aiding and assisting one Pepe Candelas, a
thief of no inconsiderable renown, in a desperate robbery
perpetrated in open daylight upon no less a personage than the
queen's milliner, a Frenchwoman, whom they bound in her own shop,
from which they took goods and money to the amount of five or six
thousand dollars. Candelas had already expiated his crime on the
scaffold, but Balseiro, who was said to be by far the worst ruffian
of the two, had by dint of money, an ally which his comrade did not
possess, contrived to save his own life; the punishment of death,
to which he was originally sentenced, having been commuted to
twenty years' hard labour in the presidio of Malaga. I visited
this worthy and conversed with him for some time through the wicket
of the dungeon. He recognized me, and reminded me of the victory
which I had once obtained over him, in the trial of our respective
skill in the crabbed Gitano, at which Sevilla the bull-fighter was

Upon my telling him that I was sorry to see him in such a
situation, he replied that it was an affair of no manner of
consequence, as within six weeks he should be conducted to the
presidio, from which, with the assistance of a few ounces
distributed among the guards, he could at any time escape. "But
whither would you flee?" I demanded. "Can I not flee to the land
of the Moors," replied Balseiro, "or to the English in the camp of
Gibraltar; or, if I prefer it, cannot I return to this foro (city),
and live as I have hitherto done, choring the gachos (robbing the

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